Sunday, October 09, 2011

Rabbi's Sadness As Shul Is Put Up For Sale 

A Jewish community has reluctantly put its city centre synagogue up for sale.

The Highfields Street home of Leicester's orthodox Hebrew community was put on the market after the dwindling numbers of worshippers meant less money for the building's upkeep.

Rabbi Shmuli Pink, who leads a small congregation in prayer four times a week, said the sale was needed to ensure the future of Leicester's Jewish residents.

He said: "It's sad to part with the synagogue, but it's the people which make the community, not the building.

"We've had to re-evaluate and plan for the future.

"The reason for the sale is the changing demographic and the building is just too big for us at the minute.

"Young Jewish men and women are gravitating towards places like London and Manchester, and away from Leicester, and there aren't enough new members coming in to fill the deficit."

There are about 600 orthodox Jews in Leicestershire. At its height, the community numbered in the thousands after many refugees came to the city after the Second World War. However, the community soon went into decline and now just a handful regularly attend the synagogue.

They are now looking for a place of worship in Oadby.

Rabbi Pink said: "To be honest a move has been on the cards for about 40 years.

"But it's only now that it's got to the stage where we're actually looking at selling.

"We're looking for another community who can use the building for worship. It's beautifully refurbished and a tremendous opportunity."

Rabbi Pink, who has been in charge at the synagogue for 10 years, hopes the building's future owners will also buy the nearby community centre, which stands just a few yards away, in Tichbourne Street.

So far six people, including representatives from the Muslim and Sikh communities, have been to visit the listed building and large community venue. The property's agent, Innes England, describes the building as being "suitable for alternative faiths and uses".

Rabbi Pink said he welcomed interest from members of all faith communities.

The two storey synagogue, on the market for £275,000, was built in 1898. The community centre was built in 1950.

It is the only orthodox Jewish synagogue in Leicestershire.


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